Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Raising Up Spirits From Underground

I’ll come clean and admit that there’s always been something about The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt that’s enchanted me. Part of it is that I think it’s the first book of John’s I remember reading (and you always remember your first, right?) but I think a lot of it has to do with Bellairs’ ability to tie together some interesting historical anecdotes.

There’s the Nine Worthies, which I recall knowing about before reading this book and therefore I felt myself one-up on Bellairs. Of that nine, one is Godfrey of Bouillon, who always seemed to be sort of the odd-man-out in the list if only because he doesn’t seem to get the same name recognition that Charlemagne and King Arthur receive in history or literature classes. There's even a bronze statue of Godfrey surrounding a tomb in a church in Austria and I have to wonder if Bellairs knew about this. Then there’s the Glomus family estate, Staunton Harold, and Bellairs includes a throwaway line about that estate’s chapel being a reproduction of an original somewhere in England [Mummy; 96]. It wasn’t until the advent of the Internet was I able to venture online and see a photograph of the estate in Leicestershire, England and do a double-take. There was the church Johnny and Fergie saw firsthand, there was the ground that the mummy trod upon, there was where Chad Glomus left his flashlight...this was the lair of the Guardian.

Since then we’ve always kept an ear out on what’s happening on with Staunton Harold, including this snippet from a tourist who recently visited:
I heard somewhere that the church was spared during the Reformation through some tricksy behaviour on the part of the Estate owner, and that the wealth, in terms of relics and candlesticks and the like, were saved by being hidden in a tunnel that passes under the church. Whether this is true or not I really can’t say. It is a fabulous story though.
I agree it’s a fabulous story and I wondered how true such a story was if only because John’s novel features an underground passage that leads from a cottage/lodge building, under a property fence, and into the crypt under the chapel. I always assumed this passage was something dreamt up by the author for the sake of the story; however, the above text seems to indicate there might more to the grounds that meets the eye.

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